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HMRC online tax systems slammed by Private Forum for Biz

SME trade body brands tax system 'complex and unwieldy'

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HM Revenues and Customs' sprawling online tax systems are not up to the job and small biz folk are paying the price, says the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

Talking in the wake of Treasury's sub-committee critical report into the administration and effectiveness of HMRC, the FPB reckons red tape is strangling small business efforts to comply with tax regulations.

Tax advisor to FPB Andrew Needham described the tax system as inefficient because it was pinned down bureaucracy, "including complex and unwieldy online procedures".

FPB highlighted cases where HMRC staff were not sent on courses to deal with electronic VAT returns, "why no staff training or automated systems were put in place is mystifying".

It added that extended verification for VAT registration was taking up to 50 days to complete and it was the little guys that were being made to suffer due to HMRC's shortcomings.

"Late monthly PAYE payments now attract penalties at a time when cash flow for small businesses is the worst it has been in 20 years," said FPB.

"In the good old days tax inspectors actually tried to help the tax-paying public by providing advice. They used to be called the Civil Service. We now get no service at all - we are just battered by rising compliance costs."

As revealed last month, HMRC is trying to save £235m from changes to IT services in a bid to chop its budget by 25 per cent, so simplifying online systems is not a priority. ®

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